Ronaldo’s Last Dance

7 June, 2024

Having reached the age of 39, Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Europe’s football pitches in a Portuguese jersey to lead his country’s bid to reclaim the Euro 2024 trophy.

All the signs show that this will be the last major tournament of his incredible career and he would like to go all the way, as he did a few years ago at the 2016 event in France.

The Portugal captain holds a number of records relating to his appearance in a European Championship final, and is very close to surpassing many others. That will of course depend on the Portuguese side’s progress in the competition, starting from a group against Turkey, the Czech Republic and Georgia, where they are clearly favourites for the top spot.

Records already held

1. Top scorer of the competition

Ronaldo first played in the Euro in 2004, at the age of 19. He is the only player to have been part of five consecutive Euros and can make it six consecutive appearances in a final simply by being on the pitch on 18/6, Portugal’s opening game against the Czech Republic.

His debut came on 12 June 2004, when he scored against the national team at the Dragao (a 2-1 win for Greece) and from there the goals continued. In total he has scored 14, two in 2004, one in 2008, three in 2012 and 2016, five in 2021. He is followed by Michel Platini (France): 9, Antoine Griezmann (France): 7, Alan Shearer (England): 7, Ole Madsen (Denmark): 7, Ruud van Nistelroy (Netherlands): 6, Patrick Clyfert (Netherlands): 6, Thierry Henry (France): 6, Nuno Gomez (Portugal): 6 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden): 6

2. Most appearances

With 25 appearances in European Championship finals matches, it will be hard to find another player to top him as he is expected to add more at the tournament in Germany. He is followed by compatriots Joao Moutinho and Pepe with 19 appearances each, while Schweinsteiger and Bonucci have 18 each and Buffon and Chiellini have 17 each.

3. Attempts on goal

Since 1980, no one has come close to Ronaldo in terms of more final attempts on goal. The Portuguese superstar’s tally of 137 is miles away from Henri’s 52, followed by Zinedine Zidane and Dennis Bergkamp, both with 48 final attempts on goal.

Records that can be broken by Ronaldo

1. Opportunities created

Again, since 1980, the record for most chances has been held by a great Portuguese, but not Ronaldo. Luis Figo tops the table with 42. Ronaldo is just one behind with 41 and is likely to overtake him, with Germany’s Mesut Ozil having 40, the Czech Republic’s Karel Poborsky 39 and Zidane 38.

2. Assists

Former Manchester United winger Karel Poborsky currently shares the record with Ronaldo for most assists, with six each, but the Portuguese is very close to surpassing the Czech, however, Kevin de Bruyne, who has five and will take part in the tournament for Belgium, is close behind.

3. Oldest scorer

Even at 39 years old, Ronaldo is not the oldest player in the Portuguese team, with that honour falling to his teammate, Pepe. As long as the 41-year-old defender doesn’t score, Ronaldo could become the oldest scorer in tournament history, taking that record from Austria’s Ivica Vastic (who was 38 years and 257 days old when he scored in the 1-1 draw with Poland in 2008).

The title of oldest scorer in a Euro final could also be claimed if Portugal make it all the way to Berlin, with that record currently held by Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci, who was 34 when he equalised against England three years ago.

4. Captin in two championships

If Portugal, who are in Group F alongside the Czech Republic, Turkey and Georgia, repeat their 2016 success, Ronaldo will become only the second player – after Spain’s Iker Casillas in 2008 and 2012 – to captain his country in two Euro championships.

5. Battle for top scorer

Although Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player in history to have played in five European Championships and is now going for his sixth, he has only managed to become top scorer once. He is surpassed by Michel Platini with 9 goals in 1984 and Antoine Griezmann with six in 2016. This year, however, the battle is expected to be quite controversial as the same title will be fiercely contested by the likes of Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Harry Kane.

The future

Whatever happens in Germany at the Euro Finals, it is a given that the 39-year-old star will have left his indelible mark on the final stages of Europe’s premier football competition, as many of the records he has set or is expected to set will be hard to be surpassed by any other player in the future.


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